French tire-maker and restaurant quality arbiter Michelin has returned to home turf, releasing its 2020 stars for France. Early word this month that the flagship restaurant of the late Paul Bocuse would be downgraded in this year’s guide — falling from three to two stars after a record 55-year streak — rocked the culinary world, and may overshadow all other news from the 2020 guide. But today’s headline might also be that France has three brand new three-star restaurants, for a total of 29 in the 2020 guide versus 27 in the 2019 edition.
In total, there were 628 Michelin stars awarded in the 2020 guide — down from 632 in 2019 — with a slightly lower number of newcomers overall, at 63 versus last year’s record-setting 75.
The new three-star club includes Paris restaurant Kei, where chef Kei Kobayashi, a student of Gilles Goujon and Alain Ducasse, “draws on the traditions of his native Japan to develop a resolutely modern and accomplished cuisine,” per the guide. With the designation, Kobayashi became the first Japanese chef to earn three Michelin stars in France. Also new to the three-star elite are L’Oustau de Baumanière in Provence, and the eponymous restaurant of Christopher Coutanceau in the coastal city of La Rochelle.
There were 11 new two-star restaurants in the 2020 guide, for a total of 86 two-star honorees. New to the group were restaurants including Sarkara, a gourmet dessert restaurant at a ski resort in the French Alps, and La Scène in Paris, where chef Stéphanie Le Quellec jumped straight to two stars, bypassing the first.
There were also 49 one-star newcomers for a total of 513. In Paris, there were 12 restaurants alone that earned a first star, including places like Japanese-influenced Le Rigmarole and refreshed classic Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower.
Finally, there’s a new accolade to earn in the guide this year: Something that’s basically a Michelin leaf. It’s a green “pictogram” that looks like a Michelin star that wishes it were a clover, and it’s used to indicate restaurants that “have taken responsibility by preserving resources and embracing biodiversity, reducing food waste and reducing the consumption of non-renewable energy.”